Banks, Robber Barons, Lawyers, Shylock – Bastards ?

Well known lawyer Anthony Julius, famous for being Princess Diana’s divorce lawyer, was rabbiting on about one of history’s oldest and most well known miscarriages of justice on the Radio Four ‘Today’ programme this morning.

It was all about that poor misunderstood creature Shylock in William Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’.

Anthony Julius was explaining how seven lawyers had just re-examined Shylock’s case and five had decided by a clear majority that Shylock was absolutely right in the first place to have his pound of flesh and the fact it would have killed Antonio, from whom it would be taken, irrelevant.

Shakespeare writes about how the poor fellow had signed a binding contract to lend three thousand readies to Antonio so he could blow it on showing off to his girlfriend so she would agree to marry him.

Nothing new there, as the present disastrous World wide credit crunch seems to have been caused exclusively by irresponsible banks lending lots of money to irresponsible people by actively encouraging them to spend on showing off to their own girlfriends and generally living the high life quite beyond their means with an utter disregard of reality.

When scatterbrained Antonio found he had been so busy wooing his girlfriend he had neglected his business and run out of money to pay Shylock’s loan back, Antonio discovered he had neglected the fact he had signed a contract with Shylock providing Shylock with security for the loan. This security was to be forfeit if Antonio was unable to pay the loan back at the agreed time.

A terrible miscarriage of justice then happened. Poor Shylock took his case to court asking for the security which was now rightfully his to be paid. But, instead, the court decided to fine Shylock half his fortune and punish him with what community service used to be by forcing him to convert to being a Christian.

The court had been forced to agree the security was rightfully and legally due to be paid to Shylock according to the terms of that binding contract with Antonio. But the court, being biased towards the rich and powerful in the establishment, as courts often are, imposed arbitrary and unreasonable conditions on Shylock taking his security from Antonio.

The court told Shylock he could have his security, but only on condition no harm came to Antonio by virtue of any of Antonio’s blood being shed. Reasonable enough, you might say. But then the court added that as Shylock was so insistent on having his security from Antonio, according to the strict terms of the signed contract, then it seemed only fair Shylock be punished if he failed to honour his side of the contract by actually taking the said security.

Unfortunately, as the security in question was a pound of Antonio’s own flesh, closest to his heart, there was no way Shylock could remove it without shedding some of Antonio’s blood and probably killing him stone dead at the same time.

So, Shylock was punished by losing his own money and being made an outcast of society as he was forced to convert from one religion to another, so being condemned and shunned by both.

A fitting end to a vicious and rapacious lender, most people down the centuries have agreed. An early example of a financial regulation authority cracking down on gross mis-selling of financial products others mightthink.

But not today’s lawyers ! They are still indignant Shylock’s contract providing him with the security of a pound of flesh was thwarted by the court and Antonio completely let off. That contracts are not completely binding and must at all cost be honoured, regardless what terrible consequences might ensue, is truly offensive to the sensibilities of lawyers.

So a bunch of today’s lawyers decided to organise an appeal for Shylock to see if they could put right what many lawyers have always thought a flagrant breach of contract unjustly dealt with by the court. They felt Shylock ought to have his named cleared and a miscarriage of justice put right.

After all, a contract had been signed. Antonio was fully aware of the consequences of failing to pay back the loan on time. Shylock had been treated unfairly. He didn’t get his security or his loan back.

Ah, so now Shylock has his good name back as modern lawyers have reversed the original court ruling against Shylock and put right a wrong that has offended all good lawyers down the ages since ‘The Merchant of Venice’ first appeared in print all that time ago.

So, let that be a warning to all you poor sods who have been encouraged, even, positively brainwashed by the banks some might say, into borrowing money you are now having increasing difficulty paying back as the Global Financial Crisis completely destroys the World economy and makes tens of millions of people jobless.

You may be sure the banks will all have their pound of flesh. They will be unconcerned how much more damage they wreak on your personal life as they take every last possession away from you, including your house.

After all, the banks have already destroyed the World’s entire economy and put tens of millions of people out of work. Why should they care a hoot about ruining your life completely.

Who cares if you are made homeless and suicidal -by the bank. Why should the bank give a damn about your wife and kids leaving you after your family is turfed out onto the streets.

Your life may be utterly hopeless as you wander the streets homeless, unable to function, entirely without your precious possessions collected over a lifetime. You signed the contract; you borrowed the money; the banks say. We want everything we can get back from you. It is our ‘right’. It is our security. You signed the contract with us and we want our contract upheld by the courts.

No matter the contract was unfair, or even frequently a complete rip-off. The banks don’t care. You signed the contract. We want our pound of flesh and by God we will have it at all costs even if we destroy everything else in the process, they say. The fact you have no choice but to sign the contract because the banks have a stranglehold over absolutely everything to do with money is quietly ignored by the banks themselves.

Of course the banks have wheedled a comprehensive control over almost every financial transaction, making sure they take a cut each time any money changes hands. They even charge you to take your own money out of the bank to spend. It was even suggested in a weekend newspaper this last weekend that banks might soon be charging people to put money in the bank in the first place !

So the banks have been used to forcing increasingly unfair, and quite unreasonable contracts down everyone’s throats. They have got away with it for so long they have become breathtakingly arrogant about always being in the right no matter what they do or how much they corrupt our financial system.

Banks being always in the right has brought the World economy to it’s knees and ruined millions of people and even made a whole country bankrupt already with more to follow.

Isn’t it about time something was done about their unbridled evil?

It would be a really good start if people started by not using banks at all for any purpose if it could possibly be avoided. Inconvenient, maybe; possible, yes. And maybe not so inconvenient after all when you discover how much better life is without destructive grasping, incompetent banking.

Banks are the modern robber barons. Many robber barons were bastards of legitimate landowning aristocrats, themselves granted their lands by Monarchs to repress the peasant working classes.

Bastards every one. Banks; Robber Barons; Bastards; they all seem the same to me. Bastards.


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